From 24 to 40: Understanding California's New Paid Sick Leave Law

Posted by Catherine Chukwueke | Oct 06, 2023


On October 4, 2023, Governor Gavin Newsom approved SB 616, which increases the amount of paid sick leave employers are required to provide to California employees. Effective January 1, 2024, California employers are required to increase the amount of sick leave provided to California employees from 24 hours to 40 hours.

Restructuring the Limitation and Redefinition of Carryover Sick Leave

SB 616 increased the limit on the use of accrued paid sick days from 24 hours or 3 days to a more generous 40 hours or 5 days in each year of employment. Simultaneously, the bill introduces a redefinition of the "full amount of leave" to now signify 5 days or 40 hours, mirroring the increased limit. This tandem adjustment aligns with the bill's broader agenda of enhancing benefits and standardizing practices.

Preempting Local Ordinances for Statewide Consistency

SB 616 preempts local ordinances, establishing a foundation for consistent statewide regulations in specific facets of paid sick leave. This legislative move emphasizes the state's commitment to streamlining and unifying regulations to ensure equitable treatment of employees across different regions.

Evolving Eligibility Criteria for Employer's Paid Leave Policy

SB 616 brings forth nuanced changes to the eligibility criteria for employers with paid leave policies. Now, employees must be eligible to earn a minimum of 5 days or 40 hours of sick leave or paid time off within the initial 6 months of employment. This modification ensures that benefits are accessible to employees earlier in their tenure, contributing to a more robust leave policy.

Amplified Accrual Thresholds for Paid Sick Leave

The bill significantly raises the thresholds for accrued paid sick leave from 48 hours or 6 days to a more generous 80 hours or 10 days. This adjustment reflects an acknowledgment of evolving workplace dynamics and the necessity for increased flexibility in providing paid sick leave, aligning with contemporary workforce needs.

Protection Against Retaliation and Notice Requirement

SB 616 does not solely focus on quantitative adjustments. It also underscores the protection of employees against retaliation for utilizing accrued sick days or filing complaints. Simultaneously, the bill mandates employers to provide written notice of available paid sick leave on itemized wage statements or in a separate writing, enhancing transparency and communication regarding employee benefits.

Legislative Intent: Uniform Statewide Regulation

In declaring that regulating specific aspects of paid sick leave uniformly across the state is a matter of statewide concern, the Legislature underscores its commitment to a cohesive and standardized approach. SB 616, therefore, reflects a comprehensive and forward-looking initiative aimed at modernizing and unifying paid sick leave policies for the benefit of California employees.

These amendments aim to enhance employee rights, streamline sick leave policies, and ensure uniformity across California, emphasizing the importance of a healthy workplace. Employers should review and update their policies to align with these changes and promote compliance.

If you have any questions regarding your company's policies or need guidance on California employment law, contact the Law Office of Catherine Chukwueke and schedule a consultation. We are here to help you navigate the complexities of employment law with confidence.

Disclaimer: This article has been prepared and published for informational purposes only and is not offered, nor should be construed, as legal advice. 

About the Author

Catherine Chukwueke

Catherine (“Cathy”) Chukwueke is the Owner and Principal Attorney of the Law Office of Catherine Chukwueke, a law firm focusing on labor and employment matters and workplace investigations. Ms. Chukwueke is passionate about helping people who have been mistreated in the workplace.

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